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Love (Is Blind) in the Time of Coronavirus: On Necessary Distractions During Crazy Times
netflix; Yui Mok-PA Images/getty images

A few days ago, I wrote a story about how secondhand embarrassment has prevented me from watching Love Is Blind. Now, it’s the only thing I want to watch, think about, read about or talk about.

Why the sudden shift? March 11.

I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to work remotely, so I’ve been spending the past few days away from Manhattan, at my parents’ house in Connecticut. On Wednesday night, sitting on the couch with my mom and dad, I saw—within an hour—a panic-inducing presidential press conference rife with logistical errors, the cancellation of the current NBA season, the coronavirus diagnosis of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson and, unconscionably, Sarah Palin rapping “Baby Got Back” on The Masked Singer. Until fairly recently, any one of those things would’ve been world-stopping news. Now, it’s par for the—horrifying—course.

For the next 24 hours, I felt an overwhelming sense of dread. The type of dread where you want to help but don’t know how; you worry about your own future but then reprimand yourself for being selfish when so many millions of people have it worse than you do; you wonder when things will start getting better, or if this is the new normal.

Last night, my parents and I were joined by my sister. She’s a teacher in one of Brooklyn’s most underserved neighborhoods, and has a lot more to think about than “Ugh, I miss being able to chat with my work friends IRL.” She has students who, if school is closed because of the virus, might not know where their next meal will come from. It was at her urging that we clicked away from CNN to revisit Love Is Blind.

Although only a couple weeks had passed since I gave the series a shot, it felt like I was watching with new eyes. It’s just as cringeworthy and eye roll-inducing as I remember, but it allowed me to detach—if only for 57 minutes—from the alarming news we’ve all been pumping into our veins.

Does it matter, in the long run, if Jessica and Barnett ever end up together? Or if we ever find out the etymology of the name Milady? It sure doesn’t, but as a temporary respite from the world, I’m here for it. I feel silly for unplugging to watch a reality dating show that has no bearing on anything, and I recognize that being able to unplug at all is a massive privilege that many aren’t afforded.

What I’m saying is, I don’t have the answer, and as far as I can tell, no one does. For now, I’m going to continue educating myself on what’s going on in the world, but understanding when I need a mindless break from all the noise. So yes, it feels frivolous, but watching this kooky show and exchanging opinions with friends and family also seems like a small but necessary way to stay sane in the midst of chaos.

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